Although I am extremely well educated (The Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center), and Board Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, I was taught nothing about post operative massage. The Chairman of Plastic Surgery at Columbia scoffed at the idea, and not a single attending physician offered this therapy to there patients.
When I opened Yager Esthetics in 1997, I naturally did not believe that this therapy was necessary, or even worked. In 1999, I had a patient on whom I performed a liposculpture and removed a significant amount of fat. She came back for her 6 month visit and looked incredible. When I asked what she had done, she told me that she was back home in Colombia, and had lymphatic drainage massage at a local clinic. The skin texture, smoothness, and completely natural look left me amazed even though I had performed nearly 1000 liposuctions by that point.
While little scientific evidence exists in the literature to even look at the effects, I did my research and was stunned by the results. Nearly 100% of my patients who did post operative massage were very satisfied with the improvement.
Not every massage is equal, and you have to be careful to select a well experienced therapist to ensure the best results. Not every spa is appropriate for the immediate post surgical patient, and you need to ask your surgeon if it is ok. Starting early(within a few weeks) makes a huge difference as well. In general, the therapy should be a little uncomfortable if it is effective. Gently touching the skin as in a relaxation massage feels nice, but will not get you the results you need.
In my opinion, post operative massage therapy greatly enhances the results of liposuction, as well as other plastic surgical procedures. I have 3 very tired massage therapists that can attest to this as well.